Israel, Sudan Engage in Diplomatic Ties Toward Normalization

4 February, 2020   |   2 months ago

Israel and Sudan have agreed to start cooperation leading to normalization of the relationship between the two countries, a historic development and Israel’s latest diplomatic achievement in Africa.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al Burhan met in Entebbe on Monday, under the auspices of Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

“It was agreed to start cooperation leading to normalization of the relationship between the two countries,” Israel stated.

Al Burhan “is eager to help his country modernize by taking it out of isolation and putting it on the world’s map,” the statement said.

Netanyahu “believes that Sudan is headed in a new positive direction” and he expressed his views to US Secretary of State of Mike Pompeo, the Prime Minister’s Office stated.

Pompeo stated Monday that he has a “constructive discussion” with al-Burhan.

“We underscored our shared desire to improve Sudan’s active participation in the region and international communities and to work towards a stronger, healthier US-Sudan bilateral relationship,” he stated.

Before leaving for Uganda on Monday morning, Netanyahu he hoped “that at the end of today, we will have very good news for Israel.”

This shift within Sudan toward normalizing ties with Israel is part of Sudan’s effort to get economic sanctions lifted by the US and improve the country’s situation.

Muslim-majority Sudan has previously been a hostile country toward Israel. Israel is the only country that Sudanese citizens are barred from entering, while Sudan has had past ties with Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran.

This diplomatic development consists of a significant turnaround in Sudanese foreign policy, which has until recently been aligned with Iran and has served as a relaying port for Iranian shipments of arms in the Middle East.

Israel established full ties with South Sudan, which gained independence in 2011.

This was Netanyahu’s fifth visit to an African country in three and a half years.

“Israel is returning to Africa in a big way, Africa has already returned to Israel. These are very important issues in the political, economic, security and other fields,” he stated before boarding his flight.

In the last three years, Netanyahu has met with the presidents of Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Rwanda, Togo, Botswana Kenya and Namibia, as well as the Ethiopian prime minister and other leaders.

In July 2016, he made a historic trip to East Africa, where he visited Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia. Weeks later, the Republic of Guinea, a Muslim-majority African nation, restored diplomatic ties with Israel after a 49-year break.

In August 2017, Senegal and Guinea, two Muslim-majority West African nations, sent their first-ever full-time ambassadors to Israel.

Israel has a long history of sharing its expertise with African countries, and Jerusalem hopes that stronger ties will lead to a shift in their voting trends at the UN and other global forums, thus reversing what Netanyahu has labeled the “automatic majority against Israel.”